Learning how to ask good questions is a cornerstone of learning and living. It's a practice we use every day. So much of our success in life depends on asking the right questions. So how do we actually do it? It's easy when you have a solid process.
When we ask good questions in education, the benefits are immeasurable. It lets us clearly define problems and expectations. Students' research becomes more productive. They have better team communication. It lets them view challenges proactively. It encourages deeper reflection and better learning processes.
5 Steps Helps You Ask Good Questions
In order to help you and your students with this, we created the infographic below and called it 5 Steps to Asking Good Questions. The idea behind it is simple: to give you and your students the edge you need to ask good questions, improve communication, maximize research results, and much more.
Asking good questions goes hand in hand with taking ownership of learning. It's not reasonable to expect a teacher to give students the right questions, either. They must be able to form them on their own. That's what this 5-step process does.
Each stage has guiding questions attached to it. These are some things students can consider to help them ask good questions:
- Focus: What specifically do I want to know? What information am I missing? Is this more than a simple YES or NO question? Am I going for deeper knowledge?
- Purpose: Why am I asking this? Do I want to gather facts or opinions? Do I need simple clarification? Do I want to offer a different perspective?
- Intent: How do I want people to respond? Do I want the answer to be of help to others? Am I asking to start an argument or open a discussion? Is the question superficial and not really useful or important? Am I asking out of frustration or curiosity? Do I really care about the answer? Am I willing to show respect/deference to the person I'm asking?
- Framing: Am I using easily understandable terms and wording? Is my question neutral or does it contain bias or opinion? Is it too long or too short? Does it contain the focus of what I want to know? Does the question focus on only one thing? Is it muddled with other inquiries that don't belong?
- Follow-up: Do I have any more specific questions to add? Will the person I'm asking be available for other questions if need be? If I still don't have the answer I need, what's my plan? What can I do if I still don't understand?
The art of asking good questions isn't lost. If we let our students know that, we've given them a great gift. They have permission to be curious and creative. They get to think and question in a way that helps them become better thinkers.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published June 6, 2018, updated September 21, 2021